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WELCOME TO HALLOWEEN HAVOC 2019 - The Reviews

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A reminder that the setup thread is here

I will be using that to yell at people who still owe me reviews

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MOVIE: THE BURROWERS (Petty, 2008)

IMDB : ROTTEN TOMATOES (73/33) 

 

PICKED BY: @No Point Stance

"I picked this because it's shamefully (IMHO) overlooked; a great little, period western horror with some great performances and very creepy moments. There's also a short film 'prequel' out there called Blood Red Earth, but it has no direct bearing on the plot or characters in the feature."

REVIEWED BY: @Curt McGirt

The Burrowers (Petty 2008)

I went into this one cold and used the Tubi free service to get ahold of it (my, how the times have changed). My initial feeling after viewing it was to just post a huge photo of the Old Witch from EC Comics days and say "you gotta come down to the Crypt and watch this, I ain't saying shit" but that's not how the game is played, so here's a review, though I'm gonna keep it short. 

The film is basically one of those nasty modern Westerns a la Bone Tomahawk, etc. White people are living on the fringes of Native American land (in this case the Dakotas) and you have a group of various bastards sent out to find missing members of a settler family that have vanished, into totally unknown territory and with only the provisions they have at hand. What they find is, well, something that should be left for you to find out rather than described. Needless to say some bad shit goes down and it tests everybody's moral center in the doing. Why this one went totally under the radar I'm not sure because the acting, sets, and concept are all top notch; maybe I just wasn't paying attention in '08 but I don't even remember Rue Morgue or anybody even sneezing at this thing (someone is now going to pull up a Rue Morgue article and I will be super embarrassed). Anyway, the less I say about this one the more you are going to enjoy it, so seriously, just go to the link and watch the damn thing. 

https://tubitv.com/movies/321131/the_burrowers

And remember, it may be free admission, but there are no refunds... heh heh heh

Old-Witch-Reads-Her-Book.jpg

(Editor's note: it is also available on Amazon Prime if you live in the UK)

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Yes - another convert to THE BURROWERS! I'll make this film find an audience yet. Really glad you liked my pick.

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Thanks! Sorry I didn't write more, I wanted to keep the surprise for viewers but also kind of need to watch it again. I made up for this with forthcoming reviews as everyone shall see.

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I MARRIED A WITCH (Clair, 1942)

IMDB : ROTTEN TOMATOES (95/68)

PICKED BY: @odessasteps

REVIEWED BY: @Brian Fowler

The legendary René Clair spent a few years in Hollywood, from about 41 to 46. Here, he works with the great Veronica Lake, as an 18th century witch, playing opposite Frederic March. The witch, Jennifer, and her father are resurrected when the tree capturing their essence after being burnt alive is struck by lightning, and they resolve to resume wrecking havoc on the modern world, and Jennifer decides marrying Wallace Wooley, the descant of the witch hunter that stopped them, would be excellent revenge. She had previously cursed the family line, that the men would always marry the wrong woman. And wouldn't you know it, we pick up the plot just days before Wooley's wedding. And his fiance is definitely not the right woman.

Here we have a great horror setup, except this is clearly not, in anyway a horror film. It's a romantic comedy, and, once you get past the paranormal elements, an EXTREMELY predictable one at that. Indeed, you can probably fill in 80% of the story from my one paragraph summary of the first act.

But... Veronica Lake directed by René Clair. It's breezy and fun, nimble and decently funny. I don't know how fresh these tropes were in 1942 (I'm guessing not very) but they are deathly old in 2019.

Extremely well made, but it's not horror. It's not even a horror comedy. It's a romcom.

Also, and I know this is a nitpick, but Jennifer wasn't a name in English speaking countries until decades after the prolouge is set. It wasn't common in the U.S. until only a few years before the movie was made, in fact.

(Editor's Note: Full movie can be found here - https://archive.org/details/MarriedToAWitch

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I should note that Fowler also wrote

Quote

A movie from 1942, that's on the Criterion Channel, and doesn't appear to be horror in anyway? I can't imagine who picked that.

 

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I guess Phil could have vetoed if he thought it was too far outside the scope of the project. I had alternatives ready. 

But I figured a movie about a witch was fine for Hallowe’en movies. Guess Bell,Book and Candle would not have been acceptable either. 

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Yup, I knew it was you.

 

I mean, it was fine.

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Again - I have zero problems with the choice

Brian is no fun 😉

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Hey, I didn't hate it. Veronica Lake is always delightful.

But it's not horror

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WE HAVE LEFT GROUND~!

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Posted (edited)

Funny that the review of The Burrowers mentioned Tubi.  I watched 

MV5BMTQzMTIwMzU0MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTIx

today on Tubi while Destiny 2 servers were shitting the bed.

My review is in the Horror Thread, but you can move it to this one as Bonus Content if you wish.

Edited by J.T.

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BONUS REVIEW

LEVIATHAN (Cosmatos, 1989)

IMDB : ROTTEN TOMATOES (17/26)

REVIEWED BY: @Curt McGirt

Okay I'm probably gonna blow up your DMs here with reviews. I just rented Nightmare Cinema tonight and just found Leviathan so hey, why not? 

LEVIATHAN (1989)

Cast list

SO... to continue from here. 

Leviathan has been in the public conversation (along with DeepStar Six, which I could not find unfortunately) so why not review it?

It admirably starts with a pretty tense scene where a deep-sea miner for precious ores starts freaking out over a system malfunction on his suit -- as in it has no oxygen pumping into it -- and Peter Weller, practically asleep at the wheel, has to rescue him. This lays the grounds which are pretty much exactly as Alien laid them a little less than a decade before: grunts doing shitwork for The Man in some godforsaken spot of existence until something horrible infects them. They have the typical run of varied actors (see above) to do their stuff. Including an ass-grabbing Daniel Stern named Six Pack being a blatantly sexist jerk to and in front of everyone else, and the total prick of a doctor (Richard Crenna) who shows up after being needed without response and pretends Ernie Hudson is the door guy at a restaurant, presumably because he's black. Wow, this one is fucked up. 

Did I say this is an Alien ripoff? This is an Alien ripoff down to finding an unknown ship in the middle of nowhere. In this case it's a Russian ship that holds our xenomorph du jour, which emerges via a safe that Six Pack finds in said tanker and ends up drinking through some vodka in a flask he steals out of it. BTW, the tech in this one is so '80s it's ridiculous, with every single computer screen being a small JVC TV. We even have a computer that gives back faulty answers to the person asking the questions so this is so far down the "horror + sci-fi" rabbit hole it isn't funny. Yet the film doesn't entirely feel implausible, due to its characters (including some gratuitous Crenna and solid work from Weller, Hudson,  Pays, and Meg Foster as the the ice-eyed terror she's always portrayed) until the latex and KY jelly erupts. Plus we got some crazy chainsaws and ridiculous flamethrowers! For no reason! 

And there is a lot of Amanda Pays...

Curt Bob says check it out! https://tubitv.com/movies/301153/leviathan

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I am going to try and get a second bonus review up today but considering I am the one writing it... that might not happen

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On 10/1/2019 at 7:52 AM, RIPPA said:

MOVIE: THE BURROWERS (Petty, 2008)

IMDB : ROTTEN TOMATOES (73/33) 

 

PICKED BY: @No Point Stance

"I picked this because it's shamefully (IMHO) overlooked; a great little, period western horror with some great performances and very creepy moments. There's also a short film 'prequel' out there called Blood Red Earth, but it has no direct bearing on the plot or characters in the feature."

REVIEWED BY: @Curt McGirt

The Burrowers (Petty 2008)

I went into this one cold and used the Tubi free service to get ahold of it (my, how the times have changed)…..

Fun movie. Monsters kinda looked like shit, though. Otherwise, the characters and story were strong. 

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Nightmare Cinema was so bad I turned it off after the first segment, btw

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8 hours ago, Curt McGirt said:

Nightmare Cinema was so bad I turned it off after the first segment, btw

This makes me sad because I love horror anthologies and I was hoping that one was going to be good.

I've got a link to XX, the all female directed horror anthology, so I will try to watch that tonight while polishing off my review for this project.

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I feel bad because it is an anthology and there might be some good ones in there. 

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54 minutes ago, Curt McGirt said:

I feel bad because it is an anthology and there might be some good ones in there. 

That's the problem I had with the V/H/S anthologies.  They were anchored by strong entries but you had to sit through the shitty ones to get to them.

Both Dante the Great and Parallel Monsters deserved better than to be stuck with Bonestorm and the dumb wrap-around arc from V/H/S: Viral.

 

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Hell, I dunno. I just went back and read the Ebert site review of Nightmare and they said the first one was the best one in the film. 

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Posted (edited)
7 minutes ago, Curt McGirt said:

Hell, I dunno. I just went back and read the Ebert site review of Nightmare and they said the first one was the best one in the film. 

Mileage often varies.  I know a guy who watched V/H/S 2 and hated Safe Haven.  Obviously the man is retarded.

And apparently God does not like ugly since moments after hurling that insult, the domain controller here has shit the bed.  Time to justify the tax payer's dollars and get to work.

Edited by J.T.

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BONUS REVIEW

Bravos 100 Scariest Movie Moments Part I (100-76)

By RIPPA

The list from this episode (#100 - 76)

Spoiler

100. 28 Days Later
99. Creepshow
98. Zombie
97. Cat People (1982)
96. The Birds
95. Jurassic Park
94. Child’s Play
93. Pacific Heights
92. Village of the Damned
91. Shallow Grave
90. Night of the Hunter
89. Alice Sweet Alice
88. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
87. Black Christmas (1974)
86. Wizard of Oz
85. Blood & Black Lace
84. Blue Velvet
83. The Others
82. Terminator
81. The Howling
80. Poltergeist
79. Dracula (1992)
78. The Brood
77. Signs
76. Evil Dead

Considering the audience that will be reading this, I probably don’t need to explain what this was but providing the context will allow me to pad and I have never been one to keep my words to a minimum.

In October 2004, I was unemployed and on my break from DVDVR (partly because I had started Veteran Presence, partly because I hated wrestling and people). My wife was pregnant so the added pressure to find a source of income was great. I handled it by cocooning myself in our one bedroom, roach infested, always flooding, basement apartment playing video games and watching whatever I could find on TV to distract myself from the pain. My late 20s were swell.

The early 2000s were the boon period for these talking head type pseudo documentaries. (Think like all the VH1 “I Love” episodes). In the lead up to Halloween that year, Bravo released this one called “Scariest Movie Moments”. They did a marathon over a weekend after the initial release which is when I stumbled across it and watched the entire thing. I was not (nor am I now) a Horror buff but I enjoyed the hell out of the series (since I thought the actual production values were great, especially the breath and scope of the folks they filmed bits with.) It had me actively seek out some movies I hadn’t seen yet. Or it allowed to me confirm “Oh yeah – I want no part of that movie”

I do chuckle at them presenting it as “Moments” when the list itself names only the movie and that a movie only appears once. Also because half the time – the talk about the movie was in the general sense (yes, it is helpful providing the context to explain why the “moment” was so scary). It is folly to nitpick which scene from a movie they chose because I think half the time they themselves forgot they needed to pick a specific moment.

For whatever reason – I think about this show a bunch and running this project made me poke around to see if it was on the Internet and it was. So here are random thoughts about Part 1. I will do this for all 4 parts (assuming all of them are still up.) I am not going to talk about every single moment and I am going to save more general comments about the project at the end.

Again remember that this list was done in 2004. They did two additional addendums (30 more in 2006 and 13 more in 2009). 

Off to my random thoughts about 100-76

  • There is a lot of Eli Roth right out of the gate. Clearly, I didn’t watch from the very beginning because if I had seen that much Roth right away, I would have been all “I’m Out!” I really don’t like Eli Roth.
  • Because of my own personal bias – how the fuck the scene from Creepshow isn’t in the Top 5 is beyond me. God Damn cockroaches.
  • Steven King, George Romero, Rob Reiner, John Carpenter and Jon Landis all so up before the first commercial break. (Not to mention Hitchcock’s daughter) Since I am arube, I was like “Oooh… big names!” A bunch more show up just in this episode. I like shiny things. (Notice I didn’t mention Eli Roth in that list. Fuck Eli Roth.)
  • Speaking of the talking heads – I am still not convinced Maitland McDonagh isn’t actually a horror film star. She looks like she played someone's evil mother. Falling down the rabbit hole that was her work in erotica was a trip.
  • Rob Riggle. Not funny now. Not funny then.
  • Night of the Hunter was a DVDVR Movie Club selection. Why I always remember that I don’t know. It might be because there are a lot of folks who post around here who are big fans of it so it comes up a lot. It also might be that when working on the Movie Club lists, the remake with Richard Chamberlain would always fuck with my Google searches. You would think child endangerment would have gotten it higher on the list but here we are.
  • God Dammit – we can never escape Black Christmas.
  • Not that you need it but another example of the inequality of how blood and guts is a lesser evil than nudity – you realize “Okay – we are going to show things jabbed into eyes but blur out the titties. Got it.”
  • If Tobe Hopper says your movie creeped him out, you deserve to be on this list.
  • Speaking of Hopper – why the fuck was I allowed to watch Poltergeist so many fucking times as a child?
  • I am not surprised the backend of the list was where they dropped a bunch of the “unconventional” picks. And the list certainly needed moments from movies that might not have been traditionally scary. That being said – the reasoning for Jurassic Park was flimsy as fuck DINOSAURS ARE REAL~! and putting the Terminator on sure seemed like a thank you to the sheer number of folks who worked on that movie who were interviewed.
  • The irony is not lost on me that I happen to watch the episode that features a Joaquin Phoenix scene in a "sure I guess it is scary if you squint" movie. Now, if I am being honest, watching Signs for the first time, my reaction to the alien reveal was exactly the same as every fake celebrity they spoke with for the piece. I mean it sure as fuck doesn't age well but at the time. Job well done.
  • Fucking clowns.
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HA! I remember watching this shit. 

Eli Roth is a similar channel changer for me. Not just the fact that he isn't a very good filmmaker (that has never been a turnoff to me), more that he is just annoying. He's all over the Why Horror? doc and the Shudder horror doc series/whatever too and I just can't take it. 

I had a personal Creepshow moment in a house me and some friends rented about ten years ago. While everyone was on tour in their band, I decided to clean the never-cleaned kitchen downstairs, which was quickly being infested with roaches. There was a TV tray that the microwave previously sat on sitting there (the microwave was taken outside and beaten with a baseball bat by me after I set it on 15 minutes to kill whatever was living inside it). I decided to move the TV tray...

You can fill in the rest.

Wasn't Rob Zombie all over this too?

 

 

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UNDER THE SHADOW (Anvari, 2016)

IMDB : ROTTEN TOMATOES (99/74)

PICKED BY: RIPPA

Uh.... it was on Netflix and gets raves. These are the movies that fuck me up.

REVIEWED BY: @Ultimo Necro

Under the Shadow by Ultimo Necro

As I said last year when I got Hereditary, psychological horror is my least favorite type of horror flick and is something I usually avoid.  I am also quite bad in that I don't watch a lot of foreign language movies, so you can imagine when I got this one my eyes rolled a little.  I have however started broadening my horizons and was keen to give it a go. I was also secretly quite glad that I got another film that isn't a Jerry Only's Misfits song title.

Speaking of Hereditary, Under the Shadow actually felt very similar to Hereditary as there are a lot of parallel themes throughout both films.  Matriarchal family relationships being the main bond, together with stress and fear of loss.  Tonally though, the films are completely different.

Under the Shadow is set in Tehran, Iran during the Iraq / Iran war of the 1980's.  As a child of the time I remember the daily news reports of the Ayatollah and Saddam Hussein and how horrific the war there was.  There almost seems to have been a war in that area of the world for most of my life.  I think in the west we are almost numb to what goes on and what the anxiety and stress of everyday life must be like for ordinary people just trying to make their way in the world.

Medical student Shideh begins her story at the Tehran medical school, where she is trying to re-apply after being kicked out for political activity.  Iran's hard line Muslim regime would not allow anyone linked with political activism into any position of responsibility and she is denied her place at the medical school to continue her life long dream of becoming a Doctor.  This is hammered home when she returns to see the medical book signed by her departed mother, Shideh is clearly upset.

Shortly thereafter she finds out her husband Iraj, also a Doctor, is due to depart for the war front and after some heated exchanges he leaves, leaving Shideh in sole charge of their daughter Dorsa, with strict instruction to head to his parents in the country if things get to rough with the war.  Shideh refuses wanting to remain at home.  The stress levels building on Shideh are emphasized when she throws herself into her Jane Fonda exercise VHS, working herself to the bone as she has little else to do.  While at the same time leaving her neighbor to look after her daughter.

Little hints are dropped in throughout that Shideh has a history of sleep walking and is not a great sleeper.  The first 45 minutes or so of the film is spent building up the idea that Shideh has a lot of issues.   While this is going on, the young daughter meets a new kid in the area, during an air raid she speaks with the boy who hands her a charm to ward off Djinn.  When Shideh confronts her neighbor over the boy it is revealed that the boy is a mute and hasn't spoken since he witnessed his family killed before his eyes.

Dorsa firmly believes the story of the Djinn, while Shideh, as per most parents in movies, refuses to believe and tells her to ignore such stories.  From this point the pacing begins to accelerate.  During an air raid an unexploded missile hits the roof of the apartment building killing an elderly resident.  The residents daughter confirms to Shideh that he was fine after the strike but died after "seeing something else"... a Djinn.

Around the same time Dorsa's favorite doll, Kimia, goes missing.  The story of the Djinn is that if they take something personal to a person then they can possess that person and cause havoc.  Dorsa gets a cold at this time and slowly, Shideh begins to believe the story.

All the other residents of the apartment block begin to pack up and leave after the missile strike, leaving only Shideh and Dorsa in the building.  The search for the doll continues with Shideh tearing her home apart.  At the same time her Jane Fonda VHS tape also goes missing.  Shideh then begins to "see" Djinn and both mother and daughter being to feel terrorized via phone calls, dreams, and seeing things out of the corner of their eyes.

Dorsa is caught speaking with someone and when confronted says she was speaking with a 'lady' who says that Shideh can't look after her and that she can help her find her doll.  Eventually the VHS tape is found unspooled in a bind and the doll is found in Shideh's locked bedroom drawer causing a huge fall out between Mother and Daughter.

In an effort to help the daughter Shideh repairs the doll with tape and Dorsa's cold disappears.  Thinking this has solved the problem Shideh FINALLY decides to move out to her husbands parents.  Just as she decides this another air raid occurs and they head to the shelter, promising to leave after the bombing has stopped.  As they head to the basement she hears Dorsa cry from upstairs.  Unsure as to what is real or not, she returns upstairs to be confronted by the Djinn.  Eventually escaping to the basement, recovering the real Dorsa and finally leaving.  A typical final scene twist revealing that the doll is now headless and leaving it open for future Djinn encounters.

Personally I enjoyed the film and thought it was decent enough.  My own take on it was that there were zero supernatural goings on and that both mother and daughter were under incredible amounts of stress due to the war, the husband going off to the front line, the loss of her mother, a missile strike and finally being left alone in a large apartment block.  The scares all felt like a massive fever dream or sleep paralysis at times.

One of my least favorite things in a film, and life in general, is poor decision making.  I appreciate you can't have a good film without people doing dumb things but I found myself getting incredibly frustrated with Shideh throughout the movie.  I did like how they left a lot of things open for discussion, was Shideh just stressed and sleep deprived?  Was it an actual Djinn?  What did the mute kid know?  I feel like my take away from the film wont match the next persons and I really enjoy that aspect when discussing a film.  

After I watched the film I went back and done some reading on it.  I was surprised to see it was Mark Kermode's number one movie of 2016.  I thought the story was pretty standard fare and the tension never really got me in the same way that Hereditary did last year.  Maybe I am judging it too harshly.  I watched it on my own without my wife.  I might rewatch and get her opinion on it as she prefers this type of horror movie.  As I stated earlier I'm not normally one for the psychological horror .

It does have a lot of positives though. Under the Shadow flowed very well, didn't drag, was very well shot and acted and the themes were subtle enough without beating you over the head.  I liked the setting and taking a psychological horror film out of middle America really worked.  I would recommend this film to anyone who is looking for something different and very much grounded in reality.  

- Ultimo Necro

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3 minutes ago, Curt McGirt said:

Wasn't Rob Zombie all over this too?

Umm... spoilers 😉

Yeah - though he only pops up once during this first episode

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